Joeri DeBeer, convicted last May of killing his legal guardian who reportedly had molested him numerous times over a four-year period, pleaded guilty Monday to violating the terms of his probation by visiting his former girlfriend and was given a stayed 90-day jail sentence.
In imposing the sentence, Superior Court Judge Myron S. Brown said he will review DeBeer's performance on probation early next year and will decide then whether he will actually have to spend the 90 days in jail.
DeBeer, 18, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the April 9, 1985, death of Phillip A. Parsons, a convicted child molester. But after a plea for leniency from the jury, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald sentenced DeBeer to three years' probation in addition to the 14 months DeBeer had already spent in Juvenile Hall.
In an unusual and dramatic courtroom scene, a parade of witnesses--including 12 jurors and an alternate juror--told Fitzgerald during a sentencing hearing last June that DeBeer deserved special consideration because of the circumstances at the time he killed Parsons.
One of the terms of his probation was that he not contact Avona Matthews, his former girlfriend and a key witness against him at his trial. Both Matthews and DeBeer now live in Contra Costa County.
"He admitted he violated probation by seeing this person three times," said Gary L. Proctor, DeBeer's attorney. "I think the judge was fair in his disposition and gave the kid the opportunity to show that this is nothing more than a technical violation."
DeBeer is in counseling and attends junior college. Proctor said "all that would have been for naught if he went into custody at this point."
DeBeer must appear again before Brown on Jan. 22 to prove that he has completed a term at school, has shown improvement in counseling and has broken no other laws. At that point, Brown will consider suspending the jail sentence, Proctor said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Melvin L. Jensen said he wanted DeBeer referred to the California Youth Authority for a diagnostic study before the youth was sentenced.
"There appear to be some 250 million people in the United States, and he was ordered not to contact one of those people," Jensen said. "That's the person he contacted. Apparently he didn't hold the court's order in very high regard. He's shown a lack of care for life and property. He committed voluntary manslaughter and arson. Now he's shown little concern for the court's order."